Rap records and comic books go together like a quiet afternoon alone and comic books. Hip-Hoppers have steadily paid homage to their favorite super heroes or villains: Ghostface’s alter ego Tony Stark, the entire career of MF Doom, David Banner, and Jean Grae just to name a few. Whether referential or overt, it’s there. But why? Maybe, it’s because comics are cheap and fun. Maybe, it’s because the rapper and the comic book writer spend large chunks of their days defining and redefining scenarios of stress and standing against impossible odds. After all, the measure of success in the world of both the super-hero and rap music, have a common ground: It’s the circumstances you overcome that can make you great.
Well, down at BoingBoing.net, comics are reciprocating. Ed Piskor, a Pittsburgh-based cartoonist who gained attention for his work with the late Harvey Pekar, has embarked on a rather strange little adventure. The Hip-Hop Family Tree: A Look into The Viral Propagation of a Culture; is an exhaustively well-researched look into hip-hop’s past. Once you read it, you understand this man’s love and fascination with the music, the art, the dance, and the spread of hip hop culture through-out the U.S. mainland. His classic indie comic composition and narrative ease make the strip readable, informative (who knew Rammelzee went tagging with Basquiat?), and respectful to the art forms and artists it covers.
If you’re like me, a comic fan and rap nerd, it’s a must read. It might not be a terrible idea to pick his 1980’s hacker comic, Wizzy Wig, either. If you would like to buy an advanced copy of the first Volume of Hip Hop Family Tree from Fantagraphics you can go to this URL. Or, if you want to read it straight from his website, head here.